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Nissan's incoming CEO aims to 'speed up management'

Automaker looks to bolster sales in Middle East, ASEAN, Japan

Hiroto Saikawa, who becomes Nissan CEO on April 1, takes questions from reporters Tuesday at the Geneva International Motor Show.

GENEVA -- Nissan Motor needs to "speed up management" processes and "strengthen the company's focus on diversity," the Japanese automaker's next CEO said Tuesday.

"Achieving growth without lowering efficiency is a crucial issue," Hiroto Saikawa told The Nikkei and others at the Geneva International Motor Show in his first interview since Nissan announced he will succeed Carlos Ghosn as CEO on April 1.

"As a Nissan-specific CEO, I will be gearing up" to address these topics, Saikawa said, after noting that Ghosn is juggling top leadership positions at France-based Renault and Nissan.

"The gap between us and Toyota Motor is too wide," he said. "I wish to strengthen sales in the Middle East, [the Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and in Japan."

When asked about rising protectionism worldwide, "the general course of economic globalization will not change," Saikawa replied. Though "we will need to make adjustments" if current rules such as trade partnerships change, "I am not worried."

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